Since Teva Runcorn was founded in 1980, we have been on a huge journey with the aim of differentiating ourselves from other companies like ours, finding our niche, not only in terms of the medicinal products we produce, but also how our business works.
We began our “business excellence” journey in 1997, implementing new systems and pushing towards difficult-to-do and difficult-to-make products. We started with the development of respiratory nebulisation products, which are important in helping people suffering from severe asthma or pulmonary disease. This has become a particularly successful line of ours – we are actually one of the largest manufacturers of it. We followed this with the development of a long-term sterile manufacturing strategy, which included pre-filled syringes.
In 2004, we opened our Preston Brook research and development facility, which is our current home. We’re really proud of our achievements and most importantly of all, of our people. We recruit and develop the best talent in the market, and support their technical professional development through structured STEM career pathways. As well as this we are proud members of Stonewall and believe diversity is one of our core assets and combine our commitment to excellence within Teva to a passion for giving back to our communities through charity fund raising and our STEM Ambassador network.
We are always looking to expand the capability of our operations, to enable us to be even more competitive. Rather than just compete on cost, we compete with the calibre of our employees by engaging everyone in the development of our difficult to make products to a very high standard. We identified this as a business strategy and believe that this is what makes us unique. Not only are we investing in the future in terms of product development, but we are investing in our employees.
The Lean Journey
We evolved our business excellence project into a “Lean Journey” in 2008. We realised that our forecasting wasn’t as accurate as it could be and, while our factory was excellent at supplying medicines, the market was more volatile than they model would support. We needed a new method that would support the realities of the highly unpredictable market that we operate in.
So, we took a step back and benchmarked who we saw were market-leaders in other industries, identifying how they maintained their success – oven cleaner and perishable foods may not immediately spring to mind when you think of medicines, but examples from other markets can often provide opportunity to think of ways to do things differently.
And that is what has enabled us to get where we are today. We took on board examples from different industries and one of the places that we made the biggest changes was in our people. We completely changed the structure of the Teva Runcorn organisation to enable this to happen. The medicines we are moving into are becoming more and more complex and our strategy is to increase production of these more complex products that require technology and skill. Underpinning all of this is a highly skilled workforce. And this is where we have been investing most heavily.
Today, we employ around 500 people, working in a variety of roles encompassing everything from quality assurance, quality control, manufacturing operations, research and development, engineering, microbiology, and packaging. What we feel makes us unique is the depth of talent within our organisation; every single one of these people is degree-educated and highly skilled in their chosen field. We inverted the management pyramid, empowering employees at all levels through investment in recruitment and upskilling capabilities. We upskilled our staff, developed their leaders and then empowered them to be successful in their chosen field.
Now, we place a keen focus on recruiting educated staff with a view to developing and training them in-house, enabling them to become competitive and agile in the modern marketplace. We believe that the developed economies’ move toward providing everyone with a tertiary education is greatly beneficial for companies like ours. Our Runcorn site is teeming with bright and ambitious professionals passionate about what they do.
We’re not a site of low-paid unskilled roles - far from it in fact. With a high quality workforce, our company can develop increasingly higher tech products, both in terms of drugs and devices. It’s in these respects that we’re looking to compete in the world market: namely, innovation, research and increased complexity.
Already, with the staff we have, we offer them as much scope as possible in their areas, and this is a model we will perpetuate into the future with new trainees. Roughly half of school leavers now attend university, and it would be a tremendous waste to not tap into this great resource of educated young people. Agility – a hugely important trait for the modern world of industry – requires this kind of talent.
More generally, we would like to see better schemes in place for university graduates, more specifically with regard to their ability to interact with and be supported by our industry. Ultimately – important though courses are in the days of student loans – is the ability to attract and support the talented students as they progress through their learning, to give them a sense of purpose and the right development.
We are optimistic for the future. We see a lot of opportunities in store for us, both here and abroad – all that’s required of us is that we have the agility to act upon them.